Job Hunting

Save Reading This until Saturday, OK?

In a global study, U.S. finance managers admit to working longer hours, with 39 percent staying connected while they're on vacation.
Roy HarrisAugust 29, 2007

Here’s a survey to ponder over the Labor Day weekend — that is, if you’ll just take a minute to log off on the computer and ditch your PDA.

Research by Robert Half International shows that finance managers are not only working far longer hours these days, but that 39 percent are taking along their laptops and phones, at least sometimes, on what they call vacations.

The study, titled “The Working Hours: A Global Comparison,” rates the work habits of U.S. finance workers against those in 17 other countries. The results suggest that far fewer Americans than, say, the Irish, get away from it all on holidays — but that those in Hong Kong and Italy are even less escapist. Only 16 percent of finance workers in Ireland report taking PDAs or laptops along on “getaways,” while 56 percent of Italians do, and the number of vacationing computer-toters in Hong Kong is fully nine of ten.

In the survey, 45 percent of U.S. finance managers said that their hours have increased over the last two years, with two-thirds claiming they now work 5 to 15 hours a week longer. The 40.9 hours weekly that the average American finance manager reports working — the third-lowest total among the 18 nations in the survey, incidentally — tops that for the French (40 hours) and the Swiss (36.4 hours). But the U.S. finance work week is much shorter than that in Japan (47.1 hours), Italy (43.8 hours), and even laid-back Ireland (45.8 hours.)

Finding reasons for the recent increase in work time, and the need to bring along electronic connections during holidays, isn’t hard. “Finance and accounting managers have taken on new roles and responsibilities due to company expansion and the emphasis on corporate governance and compliance. This clearly has resulted in heavier workloads — and, in many cases, the need to work longer hours,” according to Robert Half CEO Max Messmer.

Globally, 37 percent of finance professionals in the survey reported working between 39 and 45 hours a week, with 52 percent saying they are putting in more time than they did two years ago. The most common reasons they give for the longer hours: additional responsibilities, the company’s grown, and understaffing.

According to Michael Weiss, public relations manager for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, 2,283 finance managers around the world were polled. All were in accounting a finance jobs, and had hiring responsibilities. The survey, taken in March and April, sampled 331 U.S. finance managers.